NSW Nats leader: let's get back to work

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Paul Toole has been sworn in as NSW deputy premier, pledging to restore "business as usual" in the state's regions after being emphatically elected as the new Nationals leader.

Mr Toole, the MP for Bathurst, regional transport minister and outgoing deputy Nationals leader, defeated Melinda Pavey 15-3 in a leadership ballot on Wednesday at NSW Parliament House.

He was sworn in as deputy premier on Wednesday afternoon.

"I want to make sure we get back to work and it's business as usual because the people of this state have been doing it tough now for a number of years," Mr Toole told reporters, referencing the COVID-19 pandemic but also drought, bushfires and floods.

"What's important here is that we actually get on with the job."

Bronnie Taylor, an upper house MP and current minister for mental health, will serve as the new Nationals deputy leader.

Mr Toole said Ms Taylor was "talented, enthusiastic and energetic".

It comes after former deputy premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro on Monday announced he would resign from state parliament, following Liberal premier Gladys Berejiklian out the door.

Ms Berejiklian resigned suddenly on Friday under a cloud of corruption but a weary Mr Barilaro admitted he'd long considered leaving.

Ms Pavey was the first to put her hand up to succeed Mr Barilaro on Monday, with Mr Toole following suit on Tuesday.

Before entering state parliament in 2011, Mr Toole - a former school teacher - served as councillor for the Bathurst region for 16 years, and became the council's mayor in 2007.

Announcing his candidacy on Tuesday, Mr Toole talked up his credentials as deputy party leader and pointed to his track record of working with new Premier Dominic Perrottet.

Now the junior coalition leader, Mr Toole has big shoes to fill, with Mr Barilaro lauded as a fierce advocate for the bush.

Mr Toole on Wednesday said he had already spoken to Mr Perrottet and the pair would conduct a regional tour in the coming weeks.

"The investment we've seen from the National Party and the NSW government, we're going to continue to fight for (that)," Mr Toole said.

It also comes as NSW prepares to throw off the shackles of lockdown on Monday, reaching 70 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage.

This will restore freedoms for many locked-down regional residents.

Mr Perrottet congratulated Mr Toole for his appointment, labelling him a fighter and pragmatist who "knows what it takes to lead".

The pair were deputies of the Liberal Party and National Party at the same time and both contributed to NSW's COVID crisis cabinet.

"It is my view that wherever you live in this state, you should have access to the best services possible," the premier said.

Peak body NSW Farmers on Wednesday also welcomed Mr Toole's appointment, but said the new deputy premier should seek a better deal for agriculture, particularly on harvest labour shortages.

NSW Nationals Chairman Andrew Fraser also said Mr Toole was "steady and experienced" and backed him to succeed in the role.

But Labor regional NSW and agriculture spokesman Mick Veitch said Mr Toole's career was marked by "successive failures", including on council amalgamations and regional road management.

Mr Veitch said Mr Toole was "tin-eared" and a "lapdog for city liberals".

"There has been an increasing sense that the Nationals take regional voters for granted and this appointment proves that," he said.

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